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Brazil’s Bolsonaro adopts ‘moderate’ tone to win vote: ministers

#Brazils #Bolsonaro #adopts #moderate #tone #win #vote #ministers

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is not exactly known for soft rhetoric, but as Brazil faces the elections deeply divided, he is banking on a more dovish image and an economic boost to win, says his communications minister.

Bolsonaro follows his left-wing nemesis, ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), ahead of the October 2 election, hurt by a sluggish economy, his controversial handling of Covid-19 and what critics call his extremism.

But his charismatic, easygoing communications chief, Fabio Faria, says he’s confident a critical mass of Brazilians will eventually vote for Bolsonaro for another four years of the Workers’ Party (PT), whose reign ended in 2016 amid a corruption scandal, a recession and the impeachment of Lula handpicked successor Dilma Rousseff.

Bolsonaro, who burst onto the national stage after this triple crisis, won the presidency in 2018 with broad support, receiving 55 percent of the vote.

And while some of those voters are disillusioned today, Bolsonaro’s camp is confident the incumbent will win them back with a softer tone and an improving economy, Faria told AFP in an interview at the presidential palace in Brasilia.

Bolsonaro, who is known for downplaying Covid-19 as a “little flu,” urging Brazilians to stop being “wimps” about the pandemic, and attacking institutions like the Superior Electoral Tribunal, which he once appointed a new chief Calling it a “scumbag,” Bolsonaro has taken his rhetoric down a notch, Faria said.

“The president’s more dovish tone appealed to voters who turned against him because they felt the president’s style could have been more dovish,” said the telegenic 44-year-old, a businessman and former congressman who was consulted to give a notice to the government Renovation in June 2020.

“A lot of people who voted for Bolsonaro (2018) and then left his camp come back because they are anti-PT voters. The PT has left a huge stain of corruption in the past, and voters…are coming back because they see Brazil is polarized between Bolsonaro and Lula – there is no third candidate.

As a testament to Bolsonaro’s softer nature, on Monday he offered the incumbent’s prime-time interview on TV Globo, the country’s largest broadcaster of 213 million people.

Although Bolsonaro was a harsh critic of Globo and the “fake news” media in general, he was less aggressive than usual during the interview.

However, he drew criticism for raising doubts about whether he would accept the election result if he lost.

Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly attacked Brazil’s electoral system as prone to fraud — with little evidence — said he would respect the outcome “as long as the elections are clean and transparent.”

– Ride on the upswing? –

According to the latest survey by the Datafolha Institute, Lula leads Bolsonaro by 47 to 32 percent.

Ten other competitors vote in the single digits.

If no candidate achieves more than 50 percent of the valid votes in the first ballot, the election will go into a runoff on October 30th.

Faria said Bolsonaro is betting that an improving economy will lead him to victory.

Like many countries, Brazil is suffering from soaring prices fueled by the impact of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Latin American giant’s annual inflation rate stood at 10.07 percent last month, well above the central bank’s target of 3.5 percent.

But prices posted a record 0.68 percent drop in July, thanks in part to the government’s fuel tax cut.

Bolsonaro has also passed a massive welfare spending program called Axilio Brasil, which recently began delivering around $110 a month in welfare benefits to about 20 million families.

Critics condemn the move as economic populism. Supporters say it’s just popular.

“People are starting to realize that Brazil is doing better than other countries,” said Faria.

“Business will re-elect Bolsonaro.”

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